Raise a glass

I know, I know – it’s been a while, and if you want to make it in this blogging business, you gotta be consistent. Those who have occasioned to read this blog, and who are still stalwart enough readers to have stuck it out to now, my apologies for delinquency in writing, and my many thank yous for your continued input and presence.

Tonight, I arrived home to Maine for the first time since May. My parents were hosting a Christmas party/open house at their condo in Falmouth, and needless to say, my hair was significantly longer than anyone else’s. People were also appropriately amused at the fact that I am still wearing shorts and toting bear feet around the house.

Mom at home

It was wonderful to reconnect with family and friends, and to see my parents so at home in their new digs (my mom is the one on the left in the above picture – ain’t she great?). As someone who has spent many of the past weeks crashing on couches and roving from place to place, I am happy to be able to share in my parent’s joy at having come to this place in their lives where they are comfortable, and able to share that joy with others. And what better season for it, am I right?

Mike with Sammy

My brother Mike

Tonight, I decided to put into effect an idea that I had been pondering for about a year now – an idea that I had been hoping might have a broader impact across homes, college campuses, wedding parties, Bar Mitzvahs and more, but one which I came to realize on my flight back from Oregon needed to first be enacted in my own life. I call it the empty glass toast.

The premise is that at parties across the States (and elsewhere), we throw down tons of money on more alcohol than we usually ever need, all towards celebrating and being joyful with one another. My thought is: what if we dedicated one glass to being grateful for the things that we have, and take the money that would have gone to filling those glasses, and give it to others who don’t have such abundance. The trick for me was: how do you fold a sense of responsibility and giving into a celebration without making it a huge downer?

Mom reunited with a longtime friend

As you can see from the photo above, it was anything but a downer. Tonight, I decided to just give it a shot, and to be honest, I was completely blown away. I tapped an empty glass with a knife, explained to people the idea, shared my own thoughts on gratitude, and then opened the floor for those gathered to share anything that they might be grateful for. It took a moment, but once one or two folks shared, suddenly everyone had something to say, from the very brief, to the very funny, to the very meaningful and heartfelt. It was truly more than I could have asked for. For a taste, see this video of my parent’s friend Mena delivering some heartfelt thoughts about gratitude, and a life in service of others (she’s a former Miss Maine, so she’s pretty good at these things ;).

I know this post hasn’t been as agriculturally focused, but it’s all part of the same system in my mind. Being thankful, and being willing to give to others (fair share being the third ethic of permaculture after all) all go towards building a more sustainable human community on this planet. I would love to hear what you are grateful for this holiday season and if you have any thoughts on this notion of the empty glass toast. If you’re up for it and want to give it a shot, let me know how it goes. It’d be great to hear some stories!

My mom with her good friends

Love from my family to yours,

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